Thursday 26th of November 2020

Disciplining Your Staff: The Do’s and Dont’s

sarah huntley


No-one likes this topic, but let’s face it, it’s not always going to be plain sailing when you employ a team of staff. So how do you deal best with those situations? How can you turn around a negative situation into a positive experience? Our resident Recruitment Guru, Sarah Huntley, from Equine Elite, guides us through this minefield.


Traditionally, the way negative behaviour is dealt with in a workplace is defined as “punishment inflicted by the way of correction and training”. Indeed many out-dated employee handbooks still recommend the use of ‘Progressive Discipline’ – whereby the employer implements punishments of increasing severity when the employee fails to correct a problem. Think about it – how can this approach ever work? Expecting an employee’s performance to improve by treating the employee progressively worse. It certainly doesn’t make sense to me.

Traditional discipline minimises communication and employs threatening language at every stage. For example, the much followed traditional method of ‘Progressive Discipline’ is often a four-step process comprised of verbal warning, written warning, final written warning or suspension and termination. The problem is that punishment is not instructive. It does not teach new behaviour or solve any problems. The problem behaviour cannot be prevented unless the employee recognises the impact the problem and takes ownership to solve it.

You’ll be glad to hear there is a better way to approach disciplining your staff – a more respective way that encourages the employee to take ownership of the problem and create a long-term change and encourages more positive behaviour.

Sometimes, in these situations, it’s easy to forget that

  1. 95% of employees are responsible adults. If a problem develops and is brought their attention, it is human nature they will want to solve it.

  2. By approaching the situation in a mature and relaxed manner, with open lines of communication, and involve the employee in the problem solving process – you will get the desired results.

Sit down with your employee when you have the time to focus on just them. Switch off your phone and ask not to be disturbed by other people around. State the specific problem you are experiencing as well as the resulting negative consequences the behaviour is causing. Try to work out the root cause of the problem – once you have the cause – it’s easier to work out the solution.

With traditional disciplining methods, the employer and employee get stuck in a downward spiral of threats and punishment. No time is spent trying to understand why the problem has occurred. With this alternative style of discipline, treat your employees with respect and the positive assumption that as responsible adults they will want to resolve the problem.

With progressive discipline, the manager and the employee become stuck in a series of escalating steps, ending in threats and documentation. When you use performance counselling, you treat people with respect and the positive assumption that, as responsible adults – they will want to resolve the problem.

As an employer, why not take the first step to set up your business or yard as a type of workplace that values the staff, not one that punishes them?


equine elite logoAre you looking for top quality staff for your yard or business? Drop Sarah an email with your requirements to or call her on 07907 794196 to register your vacancy with her expert team today! All placements include a month’s trial period – and a 3-month cooling off period, to give you additional security and prolonged support throughout your recruitment process.


© Sarah Huntley and Equine Elite Recruitment, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sarah Huntley and Equine Elite Recruitment with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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